Apparently, the Brits are only trendsetters until budget time. In a bid to slash government spending, the bean-counters have pulled the plug on its innovative agency, Cycling England.
The non-governmental cycling support agency started out promoting cycling among children (for all the obvious health reasons) and expanded to include adult programs, infrastructure advocacy and, in a truly grand experiment, the establishment of cycle-friendly communities. The chair of Cycling England, Phillip Darnton, inspired the Ontario Bike Summit in Waterloo back in 2009, and was made a member of the Order of the British Empire that year for his services to transportation.
Not good enough to survive the axe when a cash-starved British government is looking to rescue a pound or two. According to this article in the Guardian, Bikeability, the youth program, has survived, to be taken over by the oh-so-committed-to-cycling Department of Transport, while Cycling England itself is going to be taken out to the back alley and put out of its misery by March of this year. (On a lighter note, the Guardian article contributes a word that is new to me: quango. Quasi-autonomous non-governmental organization. Add that to your bureaucratic lexicon.)
I suppose you could have seen this coming. This article from the Blackpool Gazette, from last month, smells a lot like what has been coming out of Toronto, and other Canadian cities, as the backlash to cycling infrastructure decisions is being felt. Angry cabbies who want cycling funds spent to fix potholes apparently have more effect on politicians than "egghead" studies that show increased levels of fitness, community connectivity and reduced traffic congestion thanks to cycling. Once Cycling England was given 3 million pounds to promote cycling, you just knew someone would want to reel that money back in.